“Legalese” is Confusing Enough in One’s Native Language

26 06 2017

The need for cross-border litigation increases annually as global trade does, and the discovery process of a foreign entity inevitably requires translation that is not simple or cheap. Thousands of pages of documents of all kinds in multiple languages might need to be reviewed to extract the information you need. According to an article in Multilingual (June 2017), the cost of the discovery process in litigation is “growing out of proportion to the benefits gained.”

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In fact, language barriers are a main obstacle preventing people, companies and organizations from acting to defend their rights internationally. In order to proceed when legal action is necessary and the costs of time and money are overwhelming, it’s tempting to ask a bilingual associate or employee, or even the client involved, to translate the relevant texts. But authorities in the countries involved will often refuse to even accept a document that is not translated well.

There are some tips to keep in mind that can make an overseas discovery and legal case more manageable:

  1. Use Machine Translation software strategically as a first step. Making a list of key words and concepts to search for and translate enables you to scour foreign language documents for passages of text that target the matter at hand. Putting those documents or passages into the hands of professional language service providers for precise translations is the next step.
  2. Right from the start, be very clear on which documents require summary translations, and which require certified translations (by human professionals). Subject matter experts are invaluable.
  3. Ensure that all involved parties understand “hold” policies for data so that nothing is compromised or lost. This means that the translations for your hold policies must be extremely clear and succinct.
  4. Be aware of which types of documents in which countries are actually “discoverable.” In the United States, for instance, privacy policies are much looser; it can be a surprise to find that in Germany or elsewhere you do not have a legal right to as much information.
  5. Moving forward, participation in global compliance programs and translation of all of your company’s basic texts into multiple languages, are two ways to show good intentions of transparency and inclusion, and to develop long-term policies that support any future legal needs.

Beyond the page, depositions may be required for the court presentation of your legal matter. Recorded legal statements intended for use as evidence will require skilled interpreters. Skrivanek has a history of over two decades of navigating the legal language translation and interpreting needs of international customers. We are ready to help you defend your rights anywhere in the world.





A New Language for Slavs from Croatia to Ukraine

6 06 2017

It’s an ancient human dream: the creation of a universal language that every person can speak and understand, regardless of their native tongue or country of origin. Universal languages, such as Esperanto, have attempted to fulfill that dream, and on a smaller scale, individual languages have united multiple dialects within their language into an “official” language that serves the common good.

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For several centuries attempts have been made to create a common language for Slavic speakers. In 1864, the author of one such “Pan-Slavic language project”* questioned why other European tongues – Greek, French, Italian, German, English – contain multiple dialects and yet manage to share a unified literary language, while Slavic dialects are incomprehensible to one another, with no shared mode of communication.

Now another inter-Slavic language has been developed and was presented June 1 of this year. Total Croatia News reports that Czech linguist Vojtech Merunka and Croatian anthropologist Emil Hersak have collaborated in order to help simplify communication between Slavic speakers of different origins, and to improve the quality of machine translation.

Because English is currently the only intermediary language in Google’s online translation system, for instance, puzzling word offerings can arise when translating from one Slavic language to another. Here’s an example: with English as the connecting Google tool, the Croatian word “medvjed” (the noun, “bear”) ends up as “endure” in Polish and “carry” in Russian, because these are both English verbs that are synonyms with the English verb “to bear.”

Linguist Merunka says that the new Slavic grammar he and Hersak have designed is based entirely on the structure of Slavic languages and is simple enough that a speaker of one Slavic language could master it in a month, while a speaker of two Slavic languages would understand it right away. The vocabulary is also derived from Slavic roots, without artificial elements.

While historical efforts to unify Slavs through a Pan-Slavic language have sometimes been driven by cultural and political convictions that the Slavic people are all part of a single Slavic nation and their language should reflect that, Vojtech Merunka’s aspirations are not politically driven. It’s a practical matter of facilitating and streamlining connection among people whose languages have so much in common anyway, especially as globalization relentlessly forges ahead.

Skrivanek specializes in Slavic language translation and localization, and you may rest assured that we are up-to-date on the presence of any and all new languages in the region.

*Matija Majar-Ziljski (1809-1892), Wikipedia





The Publications Office of the European Union awards a major project to Skrivanek and Jouve

11 05 2017

Paris, 9 May 2017: Jouve and Skrivanek win a new tender from the Publications Office of the European Union (http://publications.europa.eu) and will oversee the implementation of infrastructure for processing notices published in the Supplement to the Official Journal.

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This strategic project for the Publications Office of the European Union in view of the importance of the information being processed involved relying on a partner that could guarantee first-rate quality of service. Every day, the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union publishes public tenders issued by the countries of the European Union whose publication times are strictly prescribed.

In this context, Jouve and Skrivanek have been selected because of their capacity to offer a comprehensive solution (processing and translation of notices in all the languages of the countries of the European Union). To do this, the two partners have created a consortium bringing together around one hundred colleagues fully dedicated to managing the project.

The Jouve and Skrivanek teams will offer a high-availability platform allowing real-time operational monitoring of the notices published each day in the Supplement to the Official Journal.

At the operational level, Jouve will be responsible for reading, analysing and monitoring more than 500,000 notices per year (contract notice, award notice, etc.). Production will take place on a just-in-time basis in compliance with the publication periods legally prescribed in the texts of the EU, which range from 5 to 12 days.

Skrivanek will take care of translations of all notices that need to be fully or partially translated. Those are in principle notices from the EU institutions, bodies and agencies.  Skrivanek will handle translations from all and into all official languages of the EU.

In selecting the Jouve and Skrivanek bid, the Publications Office of the European Union can therefore rely on the complementary expertise of the two partners who are well-known for their ability to manage complex, multilingual document flows.

About Jouve: An expert in business data and a specialist in new technologies, Jouve is the indispensable partner for your digital transformation. Jouve realises the value in your most complex data, optimises your business processes and creates new digital experiences. Whatever scope you have in mind, our 2000 colleagues will assist you in your most ambitious projects and enhance your agility and your competitiveness in the digital era.

About Skrivanek: As one of the top 50 comprehensive languages service companies in the world, Skrivanek maintains a network of more than 45 offices in 17 countries throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas, providing the highest quality translation and localization in over 100 languages. ISO 9001:2008 and EN 17100:2015 certification guarantees that processes and results have been tested and proven to meet and exceed industry standards.

Jouve press contact – Christèle Blay – Corporate Communications Manager – Tel.: + 33 1 44 76 54 43 / cblay@jouve.fr

Skrivanek press contact – Jaroslava Ouzka – Global Sales Manager – Tel.: +420 605 235 691 / jaroslava.ouzka@skrivanek.net





A Special Challenge for Political Interpreters: America’s 45th President

6 03 2017

Professional language interpreters of political leaders face numerous obstacles to accuracy. Among those: the speaker’s voice or accent, his or her attitude, missed words, misheard words, misconstrued logic of the speaker’s thoughts. When every sentence must be quickly or even simultaneously translated, the interpreter must – like lightning – 1) understand what is being said, 2) convert it, and 3) deliver it.

A prestigious job, certainly, but an extreme challenge under any circumstances.

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Add to this picture a leader like the new American President, whose speech contains multiple idiosyncrasies, and the problems are not merely technical, but can become ethical. As French translator Berengere Viennot wrote in the French edition of Slate, if she translates what he is actually saying, French listeners may not understand him; however, if she edits and smoothes his language then she misrepresents him as “an ordinary politician who speaks properly.”

An interpreter’s job requires acting; the interpreter must “become” that person whose words they are translating. Vile ideas, ugly words, offensive arguments … these are not the interpreter’s to soften or exclude. It is incumbent upon interpreters to expressively communicate all of the ideas their subject speaks, as well as every emotion, nuance, and tonal element that can possibly be conveyed.

So translating low-minded comments and vulgar words is all part of the job, although slang, sarcasm, and innuendo are notoriously difficult to find equivalents for. What’s troubling in the 45th American President’s talk is more fundamental. Good interpreters attempt to get into the minds of the politicians they are translating, because if they can understand their subjects’ ways of thinking, the interpreters can more fluently anticipate and comprehend the speakers’ ideas. But finding integrated ideas at the core of the 45th President’s mind has proven difficult so far.

From the point of view of many professionals, Donald Trump’s ramblings often just don’t contain clear meanings. Agness Kaku, based in Tokyo, told the Washington Post that within Trump’s remarks the subject is very easy to keep track of: “it’s about him, it’s about the enemy.” But the actual point of his sentences is hard to track. “It just drifts,” she said. “You end up having to guess as a translator, which isn’t very good.”

And who takes the blame for incoherent translations that might have relied on some guessing?

“Trump gives me outbreaks of sweat,” his German translator said, according to a Tweet by journalist Laura Schneider. “He is so contradictory that people think the translator talks rubbish.”

There have been many tense moments and high stakes in the history of political interpreting, and it seems there may be an increased number in the near future. But on the other hand, in your world, for your interpreting needs, Skrivanek offers some of the best professionals in the industry, and we are ready for any challenge.

J. McShulskis





Germany’s Dedication to Data Privacy

6 02 2017

Germany is working toward being the most secure digital data site in the world. But as the world’s citizens knit together in networks that aren’t confined within geopolitical borders, the governments of individual countries with strong values face complex legal and trade-related issues when trying to assert them.

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A serious emphasis on privacy is embedded in German law, and even more deeply ingrained in German culture. The 1949 German constitution created after WWII forbids spying on German citizens, and challenges to the fierce protection of privacy tend to spark quick, wary references to the past. The Federal Data Protection Act was established in 1990, and has continued to be strengthened since then.

Digital Society, in Berlin, is a group of 35 industry specialists (such as copyright lawyers, cryptography professors and journalists) formed in 2010 to keep the public educated about data privacy issues, and to propose legislation to the German parliament. “In Germany,” said Markus Beckedahl, one of Digital Society’s founders, “privacy is a civil right, and in the United States, it’s an option.” Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the US data collection of German citizens’ phone conversations by the NSA dominated German media for a while, and damaged German-American relations.

But pressures from the EU and international giants like Google and Amazon, push data-sharing agreements that prioritize corporate profits and consumer convenience, as well as fears, such as that of terrorism. Many countries are building policy around such concerns, but Germany would like to avoid capitulation to compromised security standards, even as it retains leadership as an economic power.

A recent survey by auditor KPMG and the German digital trade association, Bitkom, shows that 83% of German companies expect their cloud provider to retain its data centers in Germany, while 74% want them to at least be located somewhere in the EU. This is not a perspective that supports such strategies as the EU plan to create the Digital Single Market (DSM), which would be a unified EU digital market that eliminates regulatory barriers for online services and goods.

Nor does this attitude embrace the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement that went into effect in July of 2016. That agreement gives companies the legal right to transfer data from the EU to the US, but with required US Department of Commerce reviews. Resistance continues, however, although one compromise that seems to be effective as practiced by companies such as Microsoft, is to assign “data trustees” within Germany, no matter where the data is physically stored or what levels of encryption it has undergone.

Awareness of this highly sensitive issue is important to keep in mind when dealing with German clients, maintaining respect for boundaries you may not be accustomed to dealing with. Skrivanek Group is well acquainted with all the relevant subtleties of the German culture and language, as well as the country’s laws, including the new and volatile area of cyber-law.

 J. McShulskis

 

 





New Markets in an Ancient Land – Localizing in Persian

15 12 2016

Nearly 80 million people inhabit Iran, the second largest country in the Middle East, and years of trade restrictions have limited that enormous consumer population’s connection to international products. Businesses in the west hoped for an explosion of trade after the nuclear-program-related trade sanctions of 2012 were lifted shiraz-1481595_1280in early 2016, but that has not yet happened. Apparently, logistical and diplomatic work remains to be done to secure trust and compromises about policies, the current resistance arising more from the government of the U.S., than that of Europe or Iran.

 

In spite of the hitches, Persian localization is accessible, and much more approachable than it was ten years ago, before some large-scale localization work was done by mega-companies such as Google and Microsoft. The frontier has been softened by the development of new, effective tools for translation into Persian, larger software glossaries, an increased number of available language and subject matter experts, and the like.

There are three modern strains of Persian, Iran’s being called by both Persian and Farsi. Since the Muslim conquest of Persia in 651 AD, the word “Farsi” began to be used in documents, because the word “pars” – for “Persian” – contains a “p” and Arabic does not provide a corresponding character or sound. That term “Farsi” was officially adopted to describe the Persian language by English nations in 1935, for political reasons, and it is often used in the west, but Persian refers more accurately to the language of Iran versus the Persian of Islamic/Arabic influences.* The two other modern strains of Persian are Dari, spoken in Afghanistan, and Tajiki, of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the latter of which uses the Cyrillic alphabet; but speakers of all three Persian variations can understand each other without significant obstacles.

Obstacles to localization, on the other hand, abound, for many of the usual reasons: religion, culture, consumer history, limited native on-site expertise, and unusual language features. Consider the simple fact that Persian reads from right to left, and therefore a customer reading advertising text who comes upon the left-to-right reading name of a European or American company has to switch directions when reaching the English interruption. Directional processes affected by the placement of tabs and action buttons must also be considered. The entire orientation of a page is going to be different.

Since the ninth century, Arabic has influenced Persian – the scripts are quite close, for example – but there are still notable differences that will show up as errors in translation software that is checking for Arabic alphabet accuracy. For example, Perso-Arabic individual letters have up to four different, slightly altered forms, depending on their location within the word, and therefore the automatic joining of letters (when prefixes are involved, for instance) is not always desirable. Because computer programs are set up to join the letters of distinct words in a cursive string, a nonprinting character called ZWNJ (zero-width non-joiner) must be used to override automatic joining and ensure breaks where they need to be.

There is passionate national feeling for Persian in Iran – it is an ancient language that has been evolving in a country with a seven thousand-year-old architectural presence on the planet. English is spoken more commonly than it once was in Iran, and it has a presence in major Iranian cities, but that presence is still a limited one. Even young consumers, who may be fluent in English, prefer localized websites. It’s a country where per capita income has been for the most part steadily rising for decades until the trade sanctions of 2012. Now that those have been lifted, there seems to be every reason to hope that the Iranian consumer market will soon be a strong one.

As one of the top fifty language service providers in the world, Skrivanek has extensive experience localizing all types of content for the Iranian market, and we are happy to discuss your needs any time.

 J. McShulskis

 

* “Persian NOT Farsi,” by Shapour Suren-Pahlav, 2007, Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/Languages/persian_not_farsi.htm





The Beauty and Challenge of “Untranslatable” Words

19 10 2016

Every language is a psychological portrait of a culture. Thus the tricky nature of localization from any language to another: exactly what is being implied or missed in the word choices made during translation? Expert language professionals and native speakers are essential to nuanced accuracy.

definition-390785_1920But even professional translators face the challenge of finding equivalents for words that capture a concept in one language, but are not available in a succinct form in another. Idioms and slang reach into the crevices between more conventional ideas, but there are also well-established words that reflect more deeply rooted, unique aspects of the cultures that generated them.

As autumn carries us toward the end of another year, let’s look, for example, at a few words that convey experiences of the human mind in states of transition.

“Saudade” is a Portuguese word that poet/translator Carolyn Forche says describes “a vague and persistent desire for something that cannot be, a time other than the present time, a turning toward the past or future, a sadness and yearning beyond sorrow, the pain which whispers through every happiness.” And yet the book of Portuguese poems by Claribel Alegria that Forche translated, “Saudade”, was entitled “Sorrow” in English. There was apparently no closer, efficient English equivalent than a word that paints only a single aspect of the complex Portuguese word.

The Japanese word, “aware” means “the bittersweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty.”*

“Fernweh” is a German word that captures the peculiar sensation of homesickness for a place you have never actually been.

The Korean word, “Won”, refers to the unwillingness of an individual to relinquish an illusion they have.

Vladimir Nabakov defines the Russian word “toska” this way: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

“Lítost” is a Czech word for a state of agony caused by the sudden awareness of one’s own misery.

Discovering these words that pin down rich psychological phenomena, it seems clear that the human translator is indispensable to the process of carrying complex meanings accurately from one culture to another. Skrivanek specializes in sophisticated translation of the most difficult texts and language combinations, and when necessary, we call on subject matter experts for clarification of obscure concepts. Carefully selected translation teams provide the kind of multi-faceted talent and experience capable of resolving even the most troubling language questions.

Please share with us the “untranslatable” words – from English or any other language – that you have come across!

J. McShulskis

*Anjana Iyer, 30 Untranslatable Words from Other Languages (illustrations)